First, some terminology. When you look into the night sky and see a ‘shooting star’, a glowing streak, that’s a meteor. It’s not a star, of course: it’s a lump of cosmic debris that has hit the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed and is burning up because of friction. The debris itself is called a meteoroid, and any part that remains when it has hit is called a meteorite. For convenience, though, we’ll generally use the word ‘meteorite’ for all of these. But we thought we ought to show you that we could have been pedantic if we’d wanted to.
– on meteorites, and related |
Terry Pratchett,Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld
“I’m not backseat panicking,” Hunk tries, even though he’s pinning himself up against the cool castle wall. Lance rolls his eyes, sighing theatrically, his slim-fingered hands resting on his skinny hips as he taps his feet on the ground.
“You are, Hunk,” says Lance, looking up and down at Hunk’s tensed form. “Hey. Hey, listen to me, okay? All we have to do is get the door open – ”
“How would I know how to open the door?” Hunk mutters. “I’m still learning the details of Altean tech, and I definitely don’t know how to pick a lock – ”
Lance pouts, practically bouncing closer to Hunk, his hood and the fabric of his jacket flaring out behind him. “C’mon, Hunk, you’re the astronautics and engineering guy – you can figure it out.” And then he grins his bright, shiny, Hollywood grin. “Also, I really want to see those frozen Altean zoological specimens Coran was talking about.”
Sick no thanks to weather and other things. So, more Sanic and co. An idea for bioluminescence for Zazz. In the context of TUZ, all of the Deadly Six possess bioluminescence, a trait that is an extremely common evolutionary mainstay for Hexxans. Due to a lack of constant / regular light, nearly all life on Hexx has some kind of light display with which to communicate. Natural light on Hexx is sporadic thanks to weather and cosmic interference. The most common form of “daylight” on the planet is Hexx’s atmospheric gases combusting or reacting to magnetic fields at extremely high altitudes, possibly thanks to cosmic debris burning through or whiffing by the planet’s atmosphere. Day / night phases still exist on Hexx, but the light of the system’s star can more often than not only be seen regularly and at full splendor at high altitude. The surface is otherwise generally in a quasi-perpetual state of “twlight” thanks to poor solar reception and constantly reacting gases.
Most life on Hexx is fungal with a wide array of “mimic” species such as false grasses and arboreals that subsist primarily on gaseous and mineral intake. All of Hexx’s fungal life feeds or otherwise lives off of itself in some fashion, leading to a unique food chain and system of adaptation and evolution. Competition for nutrients lead to roaming and eventually free-moving fungal strains of greater and greater complexity, eventually resulting in fungal animals (Zoomycota). The Deadly Six, Hexx’s apex predators, are a species of specialised animal fungus. They are intelligent, tenacious, and have a noted aversion to fungicide.
If space colonies were built at the Lagrange Points, would life be able to survive?
Short answer: yes.
Long answer: Lagrange Points are totally awesome places to hang out!
What’s a Lagrange Point you might ask? A Lagrange Point is an area between two orbiting bodies where the gravitational pull between the bodies are balanced along with the centripetal forces of the objects in orbit.
In other words, they’re places between two orbiting bodies where a satellite will maintain a stable relation with the other two bodies.
Here’s a diagram showing the five Lagrange Points between Earth and the Sun. Any two orbiting bodies will have these same five Lagrange Points between them.
L1, L2, and L3 are all in a line intersecting the center of mass of the two bodies. They are also the least stable off the five points. Satellites parked in these three places have a tendency to wander off after a while and require the occasional rocket burn to stay.
L4 and L5 are 60 degrees ahead and behind the Earth and are much more stable. L4 precedes it’s planet in orbit, while L5 trails. Satellites there will kinda drift around a bit but stay in the general area.
Because L4 and L5 are stable, cosmic dust and debris tend to gather and stay there. Asteroids that hang out at a planet’s L4 or L5 points are called Trojans by astronomers. Jupiter has a number of Trojans in it’s L4 and L5 points. And by ‘a number’, I mean a cosmic truckload.
Even Earth has at least one trojan in it’s L4 point. There’s probably a few more, we just haven’t seen them yet.
Asteroids are classified into three broad types - C, S, and X. Each type has a number of subtypes, but in general C-types are carbonaceous and include asteroids with a lots of ices, S-types are primarily stone or rock, while X-types include asteroids with high amounts of metals and other stuff.
So, not only are the L4 and L5 points stable places for your space colony, they’re also a good source of asteroids to mine for the metals you need to build the colony and the and ices (for water and other gasses) you need to survive.
Closer to home, there are also five Lagrange points between the Earth and our Moon.
These L4 and L5 points with our Moon are also very stable places to put your closer-to-Earth space colonies.
Edit: I attached the wrong graphic for the Earth-Moon Lagrange points. I fixed it.
Centaurus A : What’s the closest active galaxy to planet Earth? That would be Centaurus A, only 11 million light-years distant. Spanning over 60,000 light-years, the peculiar elliptical galaxy is also known as NGC 5128. Forged in a collision of two otherwise normal galaxies, Centaurus A’s fantastic jumble of young blue star clusters, pinkish star forming regions, and imposing dark dust lanes are seen here in remarkable detail. The colorful galaxy portrait is a composite of image data from space- and ground-based telescopes large and small. Near the galaxy’s center, left over cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a central black hole with a billion times the mass of the Sun. As in other active galaxies, that process generates the radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray energy radiated by Centaurus A. via NASA
What’s the closest active galaxy to planet Earth? That would be Centaurus A, only 11 million light-years distant. Spanning over 60,000 light-years, the peculiar elliptical galaxy is also known as NGC 5128. Forged in a collision of two otherwise normal galaxies, Centaurus A’s fantastic jumble of young blue star clusters, pinkish star forming regions, and imposing dark dust lanes are seen here in remarkable detail. The colorful galaxy portrait is a composite of image data from space- and ground-based telescopes large and small. Near the galaxy’s center, left over cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a central black hole with a billion times the mass of the Sun. As in other active galaxies, that process generates the radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray energy radiated by Centaurus A.
Processing & Copyright: Robert Gendler, Roberto Colombari
Image Data: Hubble Space Telescope, European Southern Observatory
If the world feels heavy on your chest now, remember that your ribcage was once more cartilage than bone. Remember the soft craters on your head where the plates of your skull had yet to meet and fuse together. There was a day when all your darkness exploded into a world of light – you opened your eyes and saw everything for the first time. You, that writhing collection of cosmic debris. Little scraps of universe, eyes that rolled around in your head like glass marbles, like revolving planets, gathering evidence and studying the world in muted wonder. You were such a tiny, vulnerable thing. Your mother used to hold you in the crook of her arm and whisper, “How can I ever protect you?”
In this world of hard angles and sharp corners, it’s a miracle that you are here today. That you survived, and will continue to survive. Listen, I’m not saying you won’t suffer. I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy. Not at all. Life is a bloody-knuckled fistfight, and if you don’t feel a little torn up or scraped raw by now, well. You probably haven’t lived very much.
Expect some soreness. Some days you will be too tender and bruised to get out of bed. It will feel like such tiring work to piss and bathe and dress yourself, and remember to feed your body. Clean the flesh, change the bandages around your wounded soul. No pain comes without a lesson. Yes, you will have your heart broken over and over again, but when you think of it as a flower or a fist, you’ll begin to understand that some things are just better left open. When the world brushes up against you, you might flinch away; there is a possibility that your skin will become paper thin. These are all normal symptoms. It’s okay to recoil. You are allowed to shrink into yourself and feel everything. You are also allowed to shrink into yourself and feel nothing. To reach for numbness. You’ll crave anything with anesthetic properties. This includes alcohol, food, and the warmth of other bodies. These will only be temporary comforts. You’ll wonder how your body can possibly contain so much pain.
You will not remember that it used to fit almost entirely in the palm of your father’s hand. Don’t take for granted the tiny details about you, even the ones you can’t see. Like the fact that there’s no man-made structure in this world as perfect as the architecture of your skeleton. No better example of grace in nature. Your spine is a volume of secrets. Each vertebra has its own story, its own reason why you deserve a 2nd, 3rd, 106th chance. Listen to the swell and collapse of your lungs. Inhale, exhale.
A baby’s first breath is one of the most terrifying, crippling sensations a human body will ever experience. Imagine a hand reaching into your insides and setting them on fire. It’s no wonder that we all come into this world with a red-faced scream. Your first taste of air punched its way into every alveolus, one by one, until your lungs expanded and shuddered with new life. You fought for that breath and you earned it, and it jolted through you like God’s sigh uprooting trees in the mountains of heaven.
Listen, you have to stop thinking of yourself as an accident. There is nothing random about the arrangement of atoms you’re composed of. You’re not a fluke. Think of all the molecules that became cells that became tissue that became organs and muscle and flesh and bone. There are billions of chemical reactions and enzymatic process breaking down and building up your bodily material. Don’t tell me your life doesn’t matter like every one of those cells do not die and give birth, and die and give birth just to keep you alive a little longer. Don’t tell me you weren’t meant to be here as if the beating of your heart did not pulse through the air of your town that night, as if it did not blow out every radio speaker for miles announcing its arrival. You are here for a reason. It’s okay if you don’t know why yet. It’s okay if you don’t know where you’re going. Sometimes you just have to be lost. It’s the only way you’ll ever find yourself.
I know. It’s hard to hear any of this over the ringing in your ears. I know how much of a hollow shell you can be some days, how badly the wind stings whistling through you. I know. I too have felt disemboweled and vacant. And I’m telling you that you’re not as empty as you feel. You’re not a vessel for more important things to pass through. You have to believe that. You are so full, so constantly overflowing. You gorgeous mess. You breathtaking disaster. There is something beautiful about the way you are always spilling.
Look at you. Sitting there, just humming the universe. You’re so painfully real. You miracle of molecules. Yes, you are a miracle and nothing less. I won’t lie, things are going to be ugly sometimes. There’s always going to be a sucker-punch coming your way as soon as you let your guard down. It’s not about being ready, it’s about remembering to swing back. Keep swinging. Yeah. Life is a fistfight, a drunken alley brawl, but baby you are busted-lip, black-eye beautiful.
Located about 11 million light-years away lies Centaurus A (NGC 5128). Astronomers have found strong evidence that Centaurus A is a merger of an elliptical with a spiral galaxy, since elliptical galaxies would not have had enough dust and gas to form the young, blue stars seen along the edges of the dust lane. Near the galaxy’s center, left over cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a central black hole with a billion times the mass of the Sun. As in other active galaxies, that process likely generates the radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray energy radiated by Centaurus A. (Credit: ESO)
We are much bigger in the night
We don’t just gaze at stars,
We walk among them as they shine
With all their flaws and scars.
We drift along shimmering paths
They’re never the same twice,
Cross galaxies like stepping stones
From fire unto ice.
We watch as stars are born and die,
Amid cosmic debris,
While surrounded by such wonders
That none else ever see.
Small planets like marbles orbit,
Each a different hue
The most beautiful thing I see
Now and always, is you.
Fast Gas Bullet from Cosmic Blast N49
Scattered debris from supernova explosion N49 lights up the sky in this gorgeous composited image based on data from the Chandra and Hubble Space Telescopes. Glowing visible filaments, shown in yellow, and X-ray hot gas, shown in blue, span about 30 light-years in our neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. Light from the original exploding star reached Earth thousands of years ago, but N49 also marks the location of another energetic outburst — an extremely intense blast of gamma-rays detected by satellites on March 5th 1979. The source of the March 5th Event is now attributed to a magnetar - a highly magnetized, spinning neutron star also born in the ancient stellar explosion which created supernova remnant N49. The magnetar, visible near the top of the image, hurtles through the supernova debris cloud at over 70 thousand kilometers per hour. The blue blob on the far right, however, might have been expelled asymmetrically just as a massive star was exploding. If so, it now appears to be moving over 7 million kilometers per hour.
Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Penn State/S. Park et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI/UIUC/Y. H. Chu & R. Williams et al.
What’s the closest active galaxy to planet Earth? That would be Centaurus A, only 11 million light-years distant. Spanning over 60,000 light-years, the peculiar elliptical galaxy is also known as NGC 5128. Forged in a collision of two otherwise normal galaxies, Centaurus A’s fantastic jumble of young blue star clusters, pinkish star forming regions, and imposing dark dust lanes are seen here in remarkable detail. The colorful galaxy portrait was recorded under clear Chilean skies at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. Near the galaxy’s center, left over cosmic debris is steadily being consumed by a central black hole with a billion times the mass of the Sun. As in other active galaxies, that process likely generates the radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray energy radiated by Centaurus A.
Image Credit & Copyright: SSRO-South (Steve Mazlin, Jack Harvey, Daniel Verschatse, Rick Gilbert) and Kevin Ivarsen (PROMPT / CTIO / UNC)
My human smell mingles with the sweat and the sweetness of the earth. I plunge into the night and look up at the Big Sky— long strings of light like dripping sap enter in and slide down my throat. In my chest is the singing of planets: I am vast and alone. My head is filled with cosmic debris. My bones are stardust, and my sleep star death.